Gaddafi’s Nephew: Ortega Treats “Traitors” with “Mercy”

Muhammad Lasthar, with the rank of minister, justifies the new wave of repression, which has left 21 jailed in June.

Muhammad Lasthar, nephew of the late Libyan dictator Muhammad Gaddafi, a close ally to Daniel Ortega, is a minister in his cabinet.  He serves as the advisor on Africa, the Middle East and Arab countries to the Daniel Ortega regime. On Thursday he said that several Nicaraguan citizens on whom there is “evidence” that they committed the crime of “treason,” have been treated with “mercy.”

Accustomed to a low profile in the Ortega government, Lasthar has been closely linked to the ruling family even participating as a founding shareholder of Channel 13, led by three of Ortega and Murillo’s children.

Lasthar referred with his opinion to the 21 people arrested in June during the latest wave of repression of the Nicaraguan dictatorship against opponents. The violent offensive has received widespread condemnation by the international community.

Among those arrested so far are five presidential candidates, two business leaders, 10 opposition leaders and activists, a journalist and two workers from the finance area of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, which the State investigates for an alleged crime of “money laundering.”

“In Nicaragua there is proof and evidence against some citizens who have committed crimes of treason against the fatherland, the crime of money laundering, goods and assets and for having received resources from foreign sources. Even so, they were treated with mercy,” claims Lasthar in the article “Treason is not a point of view,” released by the office of the Vice President Rosario Murillo, in charge of all official media.

Lasthar took the opportunity to attack the independent media, which he said defend the traitor in a “shameless” manner and present them as a patriot.

His statement goes against the denunciations of human rights abuses, made by independent organizations and by the relatives of the detainees who have reported that they are kept in isolation and without the right to defense.

The official manipulation of the facts

Lasthar said what is happening currently in the country is that there are associations that are desperate to “distort the image of the Government, which proves that they are guilty of treason.” While, at the same time, he believes they can’t be merciful to “those who have assassinated policemen, planned terrorists’ operations, a coup d’état, arms trafficking and communicate with foreigners to plot against the nation.”

With these words, Lasthar refers to the protests of opponents that began in April 2018, which were violently repressed by Ortega’s Police and paramilitaries. The demonstrations have been described, by the Executive, as an attempted coup d’état, despite the evidence of abuses committed by the regime.

“Many of them went to the Yankee empire and western countries and took refuge there and began to plot against Nicaragua and recruit those who had the possibility of betraying their homeland,” affirmed Gaddafi’s nephew, who said that one day their “confessions” will be published so that the people know the truth.

The presence of Lasthar, in Ortega’s Cabinet, was revealed in April 2011 when Wikileaks disclosed the diplomatic cables of the United States, in which it was assured that he was a Libyan who had become a Nicaraguan national and that he worked with the Sandinista strongman since the eighties as a political-financial operator, being part of his inner circle.

In an interview, given years ago to the journalist Fabian Medina, Ortega acknowledged that he had received an allowance from the Libyan dictator, which helped him sustain himself in the years he was in the opposition.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times


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